Posts tagged ‘solar sail’

February 8, 2011

Ships and Sails for Heavenly Air

To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars

“Almost 400 years ago, German astronomer Johannes Kepler observed comet tails being blown by what he thought to be a solar “breeze.” This observation inspired him to suggest that “ships and sails proper for heavenly air should be fashioned” to glide through space. […] In 1873, James Clerk Maxwell first demonstrated that sunlight exerts a small amount of pressure as photons bounce off a reflective surface. This kind of pressure is the basis of all modern solar sail designs.” (from NASA)

Say hello to…


On January 20th, NanoSail-D became the first solar sail aircraft in lower Earth orbit.

It comes back down in April or May. Until then, it is visible by the naked eye in the night sky. (

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